[Ansteorra-rapier] White Scarf Anniversary

Elton Prater elton2995 at yahoo.com
Sat Mar 10 16:43:23 PST 2012

Unto Don Tivar and the well respected Rapier fighters of the Known World;

I beg your indulgence as I have no right or place to comment on these matters but being a very stubborn person I am going to anyway. I have not played in the SCA for some 17 years but have always felt like it was "home". I have read the comments over these thoughts with mixed emotions. I will even admit to tears in my eyes over "what might have been". In the days long ago that I did study and compete in rapier, many were the times that I prayed to one day wear that white piece of fabric and curse the fact that the rapier community was overlooked by not being a Peerage level award. All I dreamed of at the time was to serve my Queen (and King) and to some day be worthy of a WS. In fact, being able to fight rapier in Ansteorra was a major deciding factor in moving South from the unsettled western part of Calontir where I grew up rather than toward the Baronies of that kingdom. 

I was so glad when I heard that the board was at least looking at a Peer level for rapier. It is so long overdue. I can not say that I have any answers to the quandary that Tiver poses, but I do have faith that eventually it will be figured out. I completely agree that there is no easy solution, but I will say, as one looking in from the outside, that I have always considered the Dons and their brethren from the other kingdoms to be every bit as noble and worthy of my equal respect as the Knights, Laurels, and Pelicans. So too with the Cadets (OK, most of them) and the squires, etc.

So, Happy anniversary to all of the White Scarves of Ansteorra and here's to the day when the Order of Precedence makes room for you.

Elton Prater
Formerly ld. Eric Blackmoor
Former student to Don Tivar Moondragon
Maker of the first Queens Champion's Rapier

 From: Chris Zakes <dontivar at gmail.com>
To: Ansteorra RapierNet <ansteorra-rapier at lists.ansteorra.org> 
Sent: Saturday, March 10, 2012 5:04 AM
Subject: [Ansteorra-rapier] White Scarf Anniversary
Fair Greetings,

A third of a century ago, on a cold, wet Saturday night, history was made. During court at an event called the Tournament of Chivalry, Her Highness Tessa of the Gardens announced that she and Prince Simonn of Amber Isle were creating an award to recognize prominent rapier fighters in the Principality of Ansteorra. That was the beginning of the Order of the White Scarf, and to the best of my knowledge, it was the first official recognition of any sort for rapier fighters in the SCA.

At that time, there were maybe thirty or forty rapier fighters in Ansteorra, and a few handfuls scattered about the rest of the Known World. Benign neglect was about the best we could hope for from most of the powers-that-be and outright hostility was a pretty common reaction to the presence of rapier fighters.

We've grown a bit since then, but now the White Scarf is facing a new challenge. The SCA Board of Directors has announced that they are forming a committee "focused on developing a set of options for potential implementation of a new peerage for Rapier Combat and/or Cut and Thrust Combat."

For many folks, their initial reaction might be "Hooray! It's about time!" But think about this a little more. Throughout its history, the White Scarf has always meant "the best of the best" in rapier, and it has earned a level of respect similar to the peers in many places. But it's still a grant-level award, and is only used in twelve of the nineteen kingdoms of the SCA. If a rapier peerage is set up, then I see three possibilities.

1. The White Scarf maintains its current precedence as a grant-level award, but there's now a peerage-level award that outranks it. We'd no longer be the best of the best.

2. The White Scarf becomes the new peerage. But this idea has several problems built into it. Do all existing White Scarves automatically become peers? (Does that include the ones that haven't been active for many years? What about the ones who've died?) If not, who decides what constitutes "inactive" and which White Scarves get the new peerage and which don't?

What happens to the kingdoms that don't use the White Scarf? Do all the members of the Order of the Golden Rapier, Bronze Ring, Dragon's Steel, Meridien Order of the Blade and Queen's Rose automatically become peers too? If not, why not? In Ealdormere the Order of Thorbjorn's Hammer is given for all martial activities, not just rapier. Do we say that the rapier-Hammers get to be peers but not those for armored combat or archery?

There's also this: SCA heraldic rules won't allow a grant-level award and a peerage to use the same name and insignia, so if the new peerage is called the White Scarf, then the existing Orders would have to be shut down, and anybody who doesn't get made a peer would not be allowed to wear their Scarf any more.

And, of course, if the White Scarf goes from being the top-level rapier award to being the top-level rapier award, what have really been gained? Does having a peerage automatically make you a better fighter, a better teacher or a more polished courtier than if you just have a grant?

3. The Order of the White Scarf is closed and replaced with a new peerage and a different intermediate award. If that happens, then inevitably the White Scarf and much of what it means to the SCA would fade into the mists of time. Is that a desirable outcome?

So take a moment to reflect on where you were and what you were doing on March 10 AS XIII, and to raise a glass to the folks who started the Order of the White Scarf.

But while you're doing that, give some thought to where we are going, too.

Happy White Scarf Day, everybody!

            -Tivar Moondragon

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